Building Local Relationships: What Business Are You Really In?

*By Susie Hale

There’s a dichotomy in our consumer relationships today. While we buy our groceries at the Super Target or Walmart rather than the corner grocer, being a “locavore” and enjoying farm-to-table dining is today’s hottest food trend. At the same time, we buy our clothes, furniture and appliances from big-box retailers, yet, we love the local designer store where the owner knows our name and the style we like.

It’s the same when we look at media: we read USA Today, The Wall Street Journal or the big-city paper that tells us the news we’ve already heard on CBS, ABC, NBC or Fox…or read online on Yahoo!. Yet, the weekly newspaper in our front yard is still free—telling us about the recent zoning change, the street construction project or the high school basketball game.

As real estate professionals, our job is not just selling homes; it’s building neighborhoods. We might hang our license with a global franchise company or with a small “boutique” brokerage, but it’s all the same. We are still putting families in homes built by local people who have them maintained by local plumbers and exterminators, and whose children are in neighborhood schools.
We build our business by building relationships with all those people. And our value is added because of what we’ve learned about our local community and how we convey it in a very human voice.

As brokers or managers look to build business, how can they leverage the collective knowledge and relationships built by the agents in that office? Professor and author Jeff Jarvis recently spoke about how brokerages can become a “hyperlocal” channel, bringing success both to themselves and to their local business partners. It’s a paradigm I am exploring with a new broker tool that is branded and has targeted content. Watch for the details.

Susie Hale is the Founder & CEO of eFrogPond, Inc.

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